May 15, 2012
A good memory is essential to good character.
When I was in fifth grade, I pulled a piano bench out from under my teacher as he was sitting down. Fortunately, my teacher was not hurt, at least physically. He was angered and, I am sure, momentarily humiliated by my disrespect. However, he regained his composure quickly and calmly dismissed me from class. There must not have been a call home as my mom does not even remember that I took piano in middle school.
The only life-changing outcomes resulting from my lapse in civility, thankfully, are that I can only play one song on the piano—I was not allowed to go back to piano class—and that my gut wrenches every time the incident comes to mind. I assume from the way my former teacher easily shook off my impudent behavior at the time that he did not end up too scarred. Afterall, he was a veteran elementary school music teacher. He must have had above average resilience to pain of all types.
As uncomfortable as it is to have this memory resurface from time to time—as it did recently while I was reading an article about Mitt Romney’s alleged anti-social behavior in high school—I find the memory helpful. Reflecting on this serious misstep keeps me humbler and more sensitive to the impact of my behavior on others. It prods me to work on my character.